Power forward: Pau Gasol (13.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 4.1 apg) vs. Tim Duncan (17.8 ppg, 9.9 rpg)
Gasol may have emerged recently into championship form, but Duncan has had that this whole season as he continuously ages well like wine.
Center: Dwight Howard (17.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg) vs. Tiago Splitter (10.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg)
Superman will match a much more formidable opponent than a center whose name sounds like a super villain. It’s called Hack a Dwight.
Point guard: Steve Nash (12.7 pgg, 6.7 assists) vs. Tony Parker (20.3 ppg, 7.6 apg)
The Lakers hope Nash’s return from a hamstring injury will bring more clarity on offense. They won’t have those thoughts when Parker’s driving past him with ease.
Small forward: Metta World Peace (12.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg) vs. Kawhi Leonard (11.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
World Peace’s still reeling from a surgically repaired left knee, while Leonard has progressively improved in all facets of his game.
Shooting guard: Jodie Meeks (7.9 ppg) vs. Danny Green (10.5 ppg)
The two serve as great case studies as talented albeit inconsistent outside shooters.
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili’s continual injuries and age (35) make him nothing more than a classic car. Historically great performances have soon morphed into too much maintenance. Meanwhile, Antawn Jamison and Steve Blake are providing consistent scoring punch.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni
The legendary coach provides every quality critics of D’Antoni believes he lacks. Popovich convinces players to buy into his ideas and while tweaking his system to maximize his personnel.
The Lakers can only thrive without Kobe Bryant for so long. Eventually, the Spurs’ will adjust enough to stop the Lakers’ towering presence in Howard and Gasol
Prediction: Spurs in six
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org